Our cast of characters: Ruthie, a twenty-five going on 125-year old, who has only ever worked at this one retirement village and plans to work there forever, because she loves it, and it’s comfortable and safe there among the old people and the endangered tortoises that wander the property. Among the residents are the Parloni sisters, Aggie and Renata, who hire themselves boys to run ridiculous errands (the inspiration for the book*) and basically take care of them, but they are sort of terrors and run all the boys out very shortly.
Along comes beautiful, charming Teddy, the son of the new owner of the property, and no one thinks he can do it. He’s trying to save up money for buying a share of a tattoo studio (he’s an artist) and the Parlonis pay outrageous sums for their gentle terrorizing of their assistants. To everyone’s surprise, he’s great at the job, and Ruthie is immediately smitten by Teddy, who is the most golden retriever person I have ever heard of. Last but not least is Melanie, the temp working with Ruthie, who takes Ruthie under her wing, and decides to try out her brand new dating/self-improvement plan ‘The Sasake Method’ on Ruthie. Her goal is to get Ruthie a boyfriend before her time as a temp is over, and she has explicitly warned both Teddy and Ruthie against dating each other, because everyone knows Teddy will just break sheltered Ruthie’s heart, because that’s what he does.
*Sally Thorne has said she wrote this book a for a friend she used to work with, because during work they would daydream scenarios where they were rich and old and had beautiful young men run ridiculous errands for them.
So, there are a lot of moving parts here, but Sally Thorne makes them all work beautifully. I was so entertained.
This is one of those where it’s probably not going to be five stars for many readers (although, who knows!) but it’s definitely five for me. I was dying laughing through parts of this, and I loved Teddy so much, and the little old ladies (especially Renata) were endlessly entertaining, shot through with pathos, which is my favorite combo. It was just so sweet and wholesome and clever, and the lone sex scene was so wonderful; it was this goofy, intimate moment between the two characters. Everyone just *liked* each other, and there was this undercurrent of impishness running through the whole book that simultaneously undercut and enforced the darker elements of both Teddy and Ruthie’s backstories, which made them seem much less saccharine and more real. I just loved it. How can you not love Teddy, whose idea of worming his way into Ruthie’s life involves hanging around her front porch like a sad puppy until she lets him in, and then says things like, “I just want to eat all your cheese and snuggle up in your bed. I can admit it.”